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Deaf man files complaint claiming nudist festival violated ADA

Have you ever tried to put yourself in the shoes of another person? Imagine the ease with which you are able to go out into the everyday world is related to the circumstances of the place you want to visit. A snow bank may block access to a sidewalk, an entrance-way may not be large enough or a bathroom may be inaccessible. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, certain accommodations generally must be made and barriers must be removed to facilitate access.

A deaf man from New York believes a nudist park has violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by refusing to provide him a sign-language interpreter at the annual festival the park hosts. The 53-year-old deaf man filed a complaint with the U.S. Justice Department claiming the nudist park violated the ADA for refusing his requests for an interpreter. In the complaint, the deaf man said that he is "fed up with being turned away every time I try to do something."

In 2009, the man asked a board member of the organization that organizes the nudist festival about an interpreter, and the board member told the man he could hire his own interpreter and denied the man's request that the man and interpreter attend the event for free. There is a $45 entry fee for the six-day festival and an additional $17 per day for each person that attends.

The Americans with Disabilities Act can require businesses and nonprofit organizations to provide auxiliary aids and services at no cost to patrons. An interpreter would be an example of an auxiliary service. First-time violations can cost as much as $55,000.

Source: Reuters, "Deaf man complains nudist festival would not provide interpreter," Daniel Wiessner, Aug. 8, 2011

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